Monday, September 27, 2010

Pretzels with...mustard?

Yes, apparently Germans don’t eat mustard on their pretzels.

I found this out on Saturday night. We’d gone to a mini-Oktoberfest in the small town of Eschenbach, not far from where we live. Another American couple had gone with us.

My friend asked for a pretzel and asked for mustard to go with it. Now, those of you from the States know this is not uncommon there. Here, it’s another story. The exchange went something like this:

Friend: Can I get a pretzel with mustard?

Waitress: Mustard? Really?

Friend nods yes.

Waitress: Really?

After another nod, waitress leaves and comes back with pretzel. As she hands over the bottle of mustard, she asks again, “Mustard? Really?”

It was an interesting reaction, and amusing. On Sunday while upstairs visiting with the neighbors, I asked them. As soon as I mentioned pretzels with mustard, his nose scrunched up. He said, “Mustard is only for wurst.”

Another cultural difference between Americans and Germans.

I have some good news from last week. On Friday on the FF&P blog, Megan Records from Kensington Books was accepting pitches for paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I had just revised my query letter so I had a pitch. I thought, “Why not?”

So I pitched. And I got a request for a partial, which consists of a synopsis and the first three chapters.

What about you? What news did you have last week, good or bad?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Today starts the weight loss challenge at the gym where I take my Sculpt & Burn class. My instructor is running it and we get weighed, measured and our BMI figured. It runs for 4 weeks.

We have the option of following Weight Watchers or doing calorie restriction. Since my program on SparkPeople follows calorie restriction, I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.

During the 4 weeks, we weigh in weekly, we turn in a food journal, and my instructor will hold meetings. She’s got some guest speakers lined up and we’ll share what’s working for us and recipes and such. At the end, we’ll get weighed, measured and our BMI done again. The person with the highest average between actual pounds dropped and change in BMI wins.

What’s the prize? Money! We all pay $25 to participate. $5 of this goes to the gym. The rest goes into the prize pot. The actual prize depends on how many participants join.

I admit that I can be a little competitive, but I think that with the amount of weight I have to lose, it would take more pounds lost than is healthy in 4 weeks for me to win. I’m doing it more for the extra motivation to keep going.

Yesterday was my personal weigh-in. I’m hanging steady at 12 pounds lost, but since it’s been 6 weeks since I started my lifestyle change, it’s an average of 2 pounds per week. Not bad.

On Sunday, I tried on a pair of jeans that is a size smaller than what I’ve been wearing. I haven’t been able to wear these pants for quite a while. Well, not only did I get into them, but they were comfortable. Snug without being too tight. That was such a good feeling.

So, that’s my update for Weightloss Wednesday. How have you been doing? Gotten any new recipes? Anyone try that shrimp taco recipe I linked to a few weeks ago? I’m telling you, those things are wicked good.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Upping the Stakes

Last night, I did something that I haven’t done in quite a while. I spent the entire evening reading a book.

I used to read for enjoyment all the time and still do on occasion, though it’s usually novellas. You know, doesn’t take as long. But I dug through my boxes of books that I got at conference this summer and picked one to read.

It was a sweet love story and I enjoyed the characters. But there was something I noticed. There was really no conflict. It was a contemporary novel that basically followed the meet and subsequent relationship of these two people up until they got engaged. There was no reason for them not to get together/stay together.

I mention this because as a writer, conflict is touted in just about every craft book I’ve read (and oh, have I read a lot). Upping the stakes. Story is conflict. If you’re a writer, you know what I’m talking about.

So, here’s the question. As a reader, do you need conflict? I know it doesn’t have to save-the-world stakes in every book, but do you want some internal conflict, at least? Or can you be satisfied with just the sweet story of a courtship?

For me, I need a little conflict. I kept reading last night, waiting for it, so in the end, it was not a wholly satisfying read. Could it be that because I’m a writer and expected a conflict, that I ruined the story for myself? Would I have noticed the lack of conflict and just enjoyed the story anyway if I haven’t studied the writing craft for years?

Actually, I think I can answer that for myself. I have read books by a particular author that have no inherent conflict. And I enjoyed them. Kinda. I had the same reaction to her as I did to the book last night. It was a nice story, but didn’t really satisfy that itch inside for a great story.

How about you? Ever read a book without any conflict? What did you think of it? What’s your opinion?

Monday, September 20, 2010

We have a winner

Thank you all again for visiting during Blogmania. I know you’re dying to find out who won my Love with a Bite Paranormal Romance Prize Pack, right?

I could try to drag it out. Make it more suspenseful. Nah, we’ll get right to it. The winner is Jessica Spettoli. Jessica, would you please me at riley @ with your snail mail address? I’ll get that out in the mail to you this week.

Sorry to all of you wonderful people who didn’t win. Don’t despair, though. I like to give things away periodically, so stay tuned. I’ll be doing several contests in the next couple of months to promote Blood Diamond, my romantic suspense novella set in the Congo jungle.

Remember when I told you about my landlord troubles? No, not resolved yet, but we’re approaching him this week and asking to renegotiate our lease. If we’re going to be in Germany at least 3 more years, I don’t want to deal with this every year. I love the town and we have great neighbors so I don’t want to move, but if he refuses, we will be moving.

The weather here is supposed to be beautiful this week. Mid 60s and sunny. Perfect for the day trips we’ve got planned. Much more fun to walk around in the sun rather than rain.

How was everyone’s weekend? Did you do anything fun? What do you have planned for this week?

Friday, September 17, 2010


A big thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog during Blogmania and entered my giveaway. I will be drawing the name over the weekend and the winner will be posted on Monday’s post. Please stop back then.

I realized this week that I haven’t really mentioned much about Germany for a while. For those of you that enjoy those posts, good news. My husband has the next 2 weeks off and we plan to take several day trips. Plus, my father-in-law comes for a visit soon and we’ll be heading to new places that I haven’t made it to yet.

I’ll also try to be better at sharing yummy German recipes. I know several of you enjoy those.

I’ve also got a trip to Austria planned for mid-October. Just a weekend, but it will be another new country for me so I’ll try to come back with lots of stories and pictures.

Everyone have a great weekend and I’ll see you all Monday!

What do you have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome to Blogmania Sept. 15 - 16!

You've arrived at exactly the right time to explore lots of new blogs, all of which, ARE GIVING AWAY A VERY SPECIAL BLOGMANIA GIVEAWAY  (For Two Days Only – September 15th and 16th) .

We've done all the work for you. No hunting or surfing. At the end of this blog post is a list of all the participating blogs. You may want to print that list out so you can mark each one off as you visit it.

I know you'll want to visit as many blogs today as you can. So, if you see something that interests you on any of our participating blogs, why not bookmark that site. Later, when you have more time, you can discover all its fabulous treasures.

CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! MY GIVEAWAY and RULES: I'm calling my giveaway Love with a Bite Paranormal Romance Prize Pack. 2 yummy candles from Colonial Candle, 3 great books (Taming of the Wolf, an anthology featuring Autumn Shelley, When Blood Calls by J.K. Beck and And Falling, Fly by Skylar White), a plush stuffed wolf and a pair of handmade moonstone earrings. Great prize, right? And easy to qualify. All you have to do is become a follower here on my blog and my Facebook fan page. Once done, just leave me a comment telling me your Facebook name or if you’d rather, email it privately to me at I'll be announcing the winner of the prize on Monday's blog entry, so make sure you come back!

My close-up of the earrings didn't turn out. This is the pic from the seller's website. Copper crystals at the bottom are the only difference. They're beautiful.
Below is the list I told you about. At each site, you'll find even more. Gifts and prizes totaling over $38,000 are up for grabs during this event. Each blog has their own criteria for their giveaway, so read carefully. Have fun checking out all these great sites.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Art of Revisions

Revisions. Edits. The deconstructing of your novel just to turn around and put it back together again. Hopefully, better, tighter, more focused.

We all have to do it, as much as we dream of being able to write a first draft that is brilliant and perfect. So how do you do it? What’s your method?

There are tons of great workshops on the subject out there, each one a bit different but all with the same goal: to help you revise your manuscript. I highly recommend Margie Lawson’s Deep EDITS and Empowering Characters Emotions. These two classes really help you dig deep.

For myself, I try to follow Margie’s method. It involves 5 different colored highlighters. This is great for you school supply junkies.  This really helps you see what you’ve got and what you don’t have. Once you know this, you have a starting point.

Then she gives you tons of rhetorical devices to pump up the power. You’ve seen these used and probably used some yourself, whether you knew it or not.

Of course we have to check for over-used words. We all have our favorites. I keep a list on my corkboard of mine.

Do you read your manuscript out loud? It’s a great way to see how well it flows. Especially the dialogue. Something that sounds funny or witty in our head can bomb when uttered aloud.

I’m finishing up revisions on Out of the Shadows this week (Yay!) and it will be heading out to critique partners next. It got me thinking about the process though. There are as many different approaches as there are writers. They can be time-consuming and draining, but the exhilaration at reading through the finished product and seeing how much stronger the story reads makes it worth it. Right?

So how do you approach revisions? Do you take some time off and then hit it? Do you just start back at the beginning and work your way through it? Do you let critique partners see it so they can offer suggestions? How many times do you generally make a pass over your manuscript? I’d love to hear your own methods.

Don’t forget – Blogmania is tomorrow and Thursday. Don’t miss out on your chance to win a ton of great prizes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Goodies Galore!

First things first. Thank you J.K Beck for stopping by and thank you to all who stopped by and left a comment on Friday. As promised, 3 lucky commenters will be receiving a copy of her new book, When Blood Calls. It is awesome!

The random number generator at has chosen PL Parker, Cheryl Rae and Gale Stanley. If you would email your mailing address to me at, I will get these lovelies out in the mail for you.

How about more goodies to give away? Remember last week that I mentioned Blogmania was coming up? It happens this week on Wednesday and Thursday, September 15 & 16. Saturday, I hopped over to Bayreuth to pick up the last piece of my giveaway for this awesome event.

I know I’ve mentioned that I’m basing the prize pack on my novel, Out of the Shadows. I’ve hinted here and there, but today you get to see what you’re trying to win.

I’m calling it my Love with a Bite Paranormal Romance Prize Pack.

First, a plush, so so soft stuffed wolf. Gabe, my hero, is a wolf shifter.

Wolves are equated with the moon, right? So how about some moonstone earrings. These beauties are handmade by Regina McGearty at Walk on the Moon. She even added a copper colored crystal for each one to signify my heroine, Belle the Fire Witch.

Next, I’ve got two candles from Colonial Candles. I searched for the scents that match Gabe and Belle and while I didn’t get it exactly, I came pretty close. There is one Tibetan Sandalwood and one French lavender. Mmm, they smell yummy.

Last but not least, I’ve got to add books! As I did with my last Blogmania giveaway, I chose books written by my chapter mates in the Austin chapter and of course, they are paranormals.

Taming of the Wolf – this is an anthology from The Wild Rose Press and features the story, Blood Moon, written by my good friend and critique partner, Autumn Shelley.

When Blood Calls – You know this one. I’ve reviewed it here and we just had J.K. Beck here. Here’s another chance to get your hands on it.

And Falling, Fly – This is the debut novel of Skylar White.

My close-up of the earrings didn't turn out. This is the pic from the seller's website. Copper crystals at the bottom are the only difference. They're beautiful.

Great prize, right? All this adds up to over $100. All you have to do to be in the running is follow my blog and join my Facebook fan page. To follow my blog, go to the Follow button in the right-hand column and it will walk you through. To join my fan page, go here and click that you Like it.

You can do both of these steps early, if you want and then on those two days, either post a comment stating your Facebook name or if you’d rather, email me at and tell me both your Facebook name and your blogger ID.

On Friday, I’ll use the random number generator again and post the winner on Monday, September 20.

What do you think? A prize worth winning?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Welcome J.K. Beck

Today J.K. Beck, aka bestselling author Julie Kenner, is joining us. If you remember, a couple weeks ago I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of When Blood Calls, the first of her new series. I wrote a review here.

Julie’s answering questions for us today. If you have any that I haven’t asked, please leave a comment. She’ll be by later to answer them. I've got 3 copies of When Blood Calls up for grabs for 3 lucky commenters. I'll do a random drawing and announce the winners on Monday.

I strongly urge you to check this series out. I’ve been an urban fantasy reader for years and this is definitely a series that I’ll be impatiently waiting for each successive book to come out.

So, without an further ado, here’s Julie!

Tell us about When Blood Calls and the Shadow Keeper series.
I’m having such a great time with this series!  It’s dark and edgy and the world is as much a character as the people (human or not) who fill the pages.

Essentially, the series is set in and around a paranormal judicial system that’s hidden within and mirrors our own.  Only this system has been around for millennia, and it’s charged with investigating, apprehending, prosecuting and punishing those creatures who break the Covenant, a set of laws originating in ancient times and first codified in ancient Sumaria.

When Blood Calls is the first in the series, and the heroine is a human assistant district attorney who’s thrust into this world when she’s handpicked to be a prosecutor for “Division 6” (the arm of the PEC—Preternatural Enforcement Coalition—in Los Angeles).  Her name is Sara, and through her eyes the reader learns about the world as well.

As you can imagine, it’s quite a shock for Sara, but what’s even more earth-shaking is the revelation that the first defendant she’ll come up again is the man she had a one night stand with.  And not only has he confessed to murder—he also happens to be a vampire.

You also write under the name Julie Kenner and have quite the following. What made you decide to put the Shadow Keeper series under the name J.K. Beck?
Several reasons, all of which mush together.  For one thing, most of my Julie Kenner stuff has a much lighter, quirkier tone to it (the exception is the Blood Lily Chronicles, but those are first person and while I wouldn’t say they’re quirky, there’s definite snark).  Also, most of my recent Julie Kenner stuff has been urban fantasy, not romance (with the exception of category romances).  So we wanted readers to know that these books are romances (though I think they would definitely appeal to UF fans) and they have a distinctly different tone than my Julie Kenner stuff.  I think fans of my earlier books will still dig the series—I know of many who do!—but it’s a distinction we wanted to make.  And, hey, it’s still me!  The J.K. stands for Julie Kenner, and Beck is my maiden name.

What are you working on next?
The next three Shadow Keeper books!  When Passion Lies, When Danger Hungers and When Temptation Burns.  YAY!

What’s a typical writing day for you?
It’s bliss.  I wake up to breakfast in bed.  My children are angels and straighten the house, do the dishes, and do their schoolwork quietly and without being told so that I can get in a solid 5 hour stint of writing in the morning.  I break to have tea and chocolate with the kids, take a leisurely stroll through my perfectly upkept yard, and then sit down to answer emails quickly and efficiently.

That’s the fantasy version, just in case you didn’t see the sarcasm and irony dripping off the words.

Seriously, I wish I had a typical writing day.  But, alas, every day is an adventure.  Right now, in addition to everything else, we’re moving.  So I have house buying stuff and house selling stuff thrown into the mix!

But I can give you a glimpse.  I tend to work late (it’s 2:03 right now, and I’m about to grab another cup of coffee).  I homeschool my kids, so that’s the morning and early afternoon activity.  Much like when I was practicing law, I have a day job to go along with my writing job.  Fortunately, I don’t have to report billable hours for the kids, so while they’re doing independent stuff, I can either write (if the chunk of time is large enough) or more likely do the non-writing work—emailing, blogging, putting together mailings, etc.

After school, I settle in to write for a bit, and while I’d like to say I do it distraction free, I’d be lying.  I did discover a great program called Freedom (Mac only) that shuts off the Internet for X amount of time.  Love it.

Then it’s family time.

Then it’s back to work until I crash. I’m a night person, so it’s not a bad schedule, though I do wish I was a morning person. It just seems so…perky.  But, hey, I write paranormal.  The night makes sense!

Depending on where I am on deadline, that entire schedule can be erased and replaced with “superglue butt to chair and fingers to keyboard.”

When you begin a new book, do you plot first?
No.  I have a basic story concept, either a plot, a character or a concept. I start to write, just to get voice, tone, possibly the character if I haven’t found him/her yet.  And then, when I can see that I like it, I go back in and start playing with the plot. 

I’ve done it other ways, but that’s my most common approach.  The dive in and figure it out then plan of action!

How do you approach editing?
Other than with a large stick, you mean?

Okay, seriously, I just dive in at page one.  But when I dive, I tend to know what I’m doing, because for the most part by the time I get back to page 1, the book is pretty much done.

So I guess that means the answer to your question is that I edit as I go along.

To a certain extent I’m getting away from that, or trying to train myself to.  What that means, though, is that the first 2/3 are pretty solid, and the last 3rd (where I didn’t edit as I went) ends up being in desperate need of a red pen.

I toss stuff happily and with no regrets.  I cut characters.  I delete scenes.  I change motivations.  I never (well, hardly ever) fall in love with the page.  It’s all about serving the story, and that’s all about entertaining the reader by being true to the plot and the characters.

Which author had the most effect on you as a reader?
I’m not sure I can answer that!  I read so much and across so many genres.  If I have to pick one and only one, probably Madeline L’Engle, simply because A Wrinkle in Time sparked my imagination in so many ways.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Cut out the chaff. Keep your writing tight and your story moving.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read!  And write.  A lot.  Seriously, reading is by and away the best, most efficient way to grok the concept of story—of pacing and plotting and characterization.  Workshops and books are awesome, but the absorption of knowledge through actually reading is so, so important. 

Equally important is to write.  Put pen to paper and write.  And keep writing.

Thanks for having me!  I hope folks explore the series at (be sure to check out my booktrailer!)  And you can find me on facebook ( and twitter (

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's almost time

Blogmania is coming again! If you don’t remember, it’s a blog event where over 100 different blogs give away great prizes. Last time, it was a one day event. This time it will span 2 days.

Each blog that’s registered with Blogmania will carry the same message those two days and will have a short of list of other blogs to try. The idea is to go from one blog to another and participate to go in the drawing for prizes.

Each blog has their own prize offering AND their own rules as to how to qualify, so make sure you read the guidelines on each blog carefully.

This event is taking place on September 15 and 16. Last time, I gave away a pretty good prize, if I do say so myself. This time, I’m trying something a little different.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve finished my first full-length novel and I’m getting ready to query agents. So, to celebrate, I’m basing my prize on my book, Out of the Shadows. I’ve been ordering goodies and I need only 2 more items to have it all together. Once I do, I’ll have pics to show you what you’ll be playing for. One item is in the mail, winging its way here. The other I need to head to Bayreuth and pick up.

I’m also changing the rules a little as well. Last time, you needed to sign up as a blog follower to be eligible to win. That part still applies. So if you are already a blog follower (thank you!), you’re good with that part. To become a blog follower, scroll down until you see the Follow button on the right. Click it and follow the instructions. It’s quick and easy.

The second thing you need to do is sign up on my Facebook fan page. Once you’ve done that, just comment on one of those days and let me know what your Facebook name is so I can match them up.
This Blogmania is going to be better than the last so gear up and get ready. If you want to follow me early, please do. Also, if you want to email me with your blog ID and Facebook ID rather than posting a comment, feel free.

We’re going to have a lot of fun and there’s a ton of great prizes waiting to be won. Join in on the fun!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


It’s Wednesday so we’re talking about weightloss again.

Did any of you try out that recipe from last week yet? I’m telling you, it is so darn good. This week, I’ve got 5 more recipes picked out to try – 1 smoothie, 2 main dishes and 2 desserts. I’ll let you know next week what I thought of them.

Good news for me this week. I lost over 4 pounds last week, making a four week total of 12 pounds down. I also measured myself again. I lost a total of 3.75 inches. I’m sure the loss of pounds will slow down soon and that’s fine. It’s nice to have this much of a loss right away, though. Helps keep motivation up.

That leads me into my discussion today. Motivation. For me, that’s hands down, the hardest part of developing a healthy lifestyle. Let’s face it, changing out bad habits for good ones is difficult. When it takes a while to see the benefits physically, what makes you keep going?

I’ve mentioned SparkPeople here before. It’s the method I’ve chosen to institute these changes in my life and I think I chose a winner this time. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with an acquaintance I’ve known for a while now and just learned that she’s been doing SparkPeople and lost 75 pounds with this program.

My excitement prompted me to buy the book, The Spark, written by Chris Downie. This is the man that spent 5 million dollars of his own money to provide the free website that millions of people are using to lose weight and become healthier.

I’m about halfway through it and already I know it’s a keeper for the bookshelf. Even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, maybe you’re trying to make other changes in your life. While the book is focused on losing weight and choosing a healthy lifestyle, what he has to say can be applied, and should be, to other situations.

He talks about starting out small so that it’s easier to be consistent. There are four cornerstones that he discusses and that they are interconnected so building on one will help build the others. It’s common sense advice written in a conversational tone that makes the reading easier to digest.

If you think you might be interested, head over to Amazon. You can “look inside” the book to see if it’s something you’d like to pick up. I recommend it.

What motivates you? What do you do to keep your motivation high? What life changes are you trying to make right now?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

To Enter or Not to Enter

Let’s talk about writing contests today.

This has been a topic of discussion in several of my groups lately. I had hopes of entering Out of the Shadows in the Golden Heart this year. The RWA Golden Heart is kind of like the Emmys for unpublished writers.

I know, I have 2 novellas published (well, 1 comes out in December), but according to RWA guidelines, I’m not considered a published author. Except for this contest. Yes, I was disappointed at first, but I’m over it now. I’ll just wait until it’s published and then enter it in the RITA, the contest for published authors.

I have entered several other contests. Mostly last year. At the time, my manuscript wasn’t finished and in fact, the story arc is quite different then from now. I got a lot of confusing scores. Some helpful feedback and some not so helpful comments.

I never did final, although I got close a few times. It seemed that there would be one score that would knock me out of the running. In one contest there were only 2 judges. One judge gave me a near perfect score. The other was 100 points lower. 100 points! It was as if they had read 2 different manuscripts, or so it seemed to me.

I did get some helpful feedback. Some of the suggestions helped me clarify the story more and some gave me new avenues to pursue that would make it stronger. Some comments I questioned why they were included, even if the judge thought them. For instance, in my heroine’s POV, I described my hero as “tall, maybe 6’3” or 6’4”. The comment from the judge was “that isn’t tall”. Huh? Granted, I’m short, only 5’3”, so many men seem tall to me. But the average height for a man is about 5’10” or so. Anyway.

As I questioned my scores, or rather the vast difference between score 1 and score 2 for the same manuscript, I was told that often happens to writers with a strong voice. That’s good, right? Whether it’s true or not, I have no idea, but it helped soothe my battered ego.

After having the same experience time and again, I decided to give the contest circuit a break. I think, for me, this was the right decision. At least for now.

Have you entered any writing contests? What was your experience? Are there any contests you’re looking at to enter this year? What are your goals when entering contests?

Monday, September 6, 2010

We're staying

I think I’ve mentioned before that hubby’s contract here in Germany is up at the end of November. We’ve been playing the waiting game to find out what we’re doing after it’s over. Hubby’s current employer elected not to rebid for the contract.

We’ve now heard who has won the contract. Turns out that it’s one of the companies that have already made him an offer to stay and work in the event they won.

Hubby’s giving his current employer the opportunity to offer him another position, but it looks as though we may be staying put.

That brings me to our landlord situation. I know I talked about how the landlord wasn’t doing the utility bills correctly and that we’ve been to the tenant association to try and resolve the issue. He met with the lawyer there and she told him what he needed the next time he came in. Of course, he hasn’t been back and we still haven’t gotten the money he owes us.

So now that we have an idea of what’s going on with the work front, we’re going to serve notice that we’re moving out. Here in Germany, we’re required to give 3 months notice unless we are on orders to leave the area. So, we’re going to be moving just before Christmas. We’ll still have to deal with the landlord for a bit afterwards but hopefully it won’t be too painful now that he knows that we are aware of the correct procedure and we know who to go to in order to force the issue if he doesn’t comply.

How was everyone else’s weekend? What did you do?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weightloss Wednesdays

As I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago, I'm committed to a healthier lifestyle. For me, that includes more exercise, more water and healthier food choices. To that end, I'm going to devote Wednesdays here at the blog for weightloss.

My idea is that we can cheer each other on, share tips and tricks, share recipes and discuss things on mind that go hand in hand with a healthier lifestyle.

I'll also start off with an update on how I did for the previous week. So, I drank my 8 cups of water every day last week but 1. I did well following my program on SparkPeople. I only went over on calories one day. It was the day that we went in town for the festival and I indulged in a couple of beers. I still managed to lose over 2 pounds, which brings my three week total to 7.8 pounds lost.

I also joined a class at the gym on post. It's called Sculpt & Burn and it's a combination of cardio and strength training. It meets Mondays and Wednesdays and I went both days this week. It's really kicking my butt and my muscles, particularly my triceps, quads and hamstrings are letting me know how hard they've been working. I'm also keeping up with the 2.5 mile walks 5 days a week with Peanut. She's loving it and I'm feeling darn good.

I've noticed the biggest difference in my energy levels so far. I've got enough energy to get through the day without that period in the early afternoon when I usually start dragging. At the end of the night, though, I'm whooped and have started going to bed a little earlier. I pass out until I hear my alarm the next morning.

Okay, so that's an update on my three weeks with SparkPeople. Email me with your username if you decide to join up and we can partner up.

Now I have to share a recipe that I just fell in love with this week. While in the States, I picked up the cookbooks that went along with the show on Lifetime called Cook Yourself Thin. I've since purchased the season on iTunes and have watched every episode. I'm sure you can probably catch it on reruns there in the States. Great ideas.

Anyway, I made one of the recipes Monday night for dinner and Oh My God, it was so good. It was Sauteed Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos with Mango-Pineapple Salsa and Spicy Black Beans.

To avoid copyright issues by posting the recipe, I'm posting a link to the recipe on the Lifetime website. I didn't have any tequila so I omitted that part. Some things I noticed.

Using a whole pound of shrimp, you can really get 8 tacos out of the recipe. So add 4 more tortillas and make 2 tacos a serving size. Also, I like spicy food, but 2 TB of red pepper flakes in the beans was just too much. Next time, I'm going to half it.

I wasn't too sure about the mango-pineapple salsa and no cheese (since I'm a raging cheese-aholic), but the salsa was a perfect compliment and I didn't even miss the cheese. From me, that's a bold statement.

So, try the tacos. They're great. Maybe poke around the website. If you'd like to talk about anything in particular here during Weightloss Wednesdays, drop me an email at Are you working on a lifestyle change? How's it going?